Beyond: A Time lapse Journey through the UAE

Dubai topped the list for the best place to work, ahead of others such as New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris
Dubai topped the list for the best place to work, ahead of others such as New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris
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Beno Saradzic’s work shows never-before-seen pictures of Dubai and Abu Dhabi that explain the regions’ development through the lens of the camera.

What laymen know about photography can pass through the eye of a needle. There’s more to photography than merely clicking pictures and then throwing them away if the pictures don’t appeal to us. In today’s digital era, deleting pictures has become as easy as clicking them – if not easier – making a complete contradiction to the olden times when each reel had to be developed before the photographer could use or discard them.

There again, in the world of absolute technical photography, digital cameras aren’t just utilised as a child’s play but hold as much import as the conventional cameras in the past. Beno Saradzic is one such true-blue photographer who uses a professional DSLR camera with motion-control system (a robotic camera platform), whose work quality is almost magical, making him a wizard of domain.

His latest work, ‘Beyond: Memoirs in a Time-lapse’ is truly a marvel to behold and having once seen it, there’s no way that anyone can go back to looking at things the way they used to before. Saradzic’s work is a brilliant seven-and-a-half minute long video film put together with his photographic work traversing the entirety of Dubai and Abu Dhabi over two-years.

As the title of the work suggests, Saradzic has made quite an effective utilisation of the time-lapse photographic technique to capture the various landmark destinations and horizons of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and elevate them to such poignancy that one wishes the video film to continue forever. The background score further accentuates the pulse of the photographic marvel as scenes and panoramas coalesce seamlessly into one another.



Saradzic amazing work has caught the attention of the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed, who shared the video with his 2.75 million Twitter followers which has been so far Retweeted 877 times and Favorited by 516 fans.

Beno Saradzic, who spoke to us in a special tête-à-tête, explains about the technique adding, “Unlike conventional video, ‘Beyond’ was shot with stop-motion technique, also known as time lapse photography. This is achieved by using a digital still camera instead of a video camera. Time lapse photographer must capture individual still frames of any given scene over many hours. Individual frames are later assembled into motion video which appears in accelerated form, revealing fascinating motion which can’t be observed any other way. It’s a slow, painstaking process which takes many months, sometimes years to complete. ‘Beyond’ took nearly two and a half years to shoot and edit. Everything on ‘Beyond’ was a challenge. I had several cases of equipment, weighing from 30 to 100 kg which had to be transported to all of these locations, many of them on top of the roofs of UAE’s tallest skyscrapers, at the peaks of the giant container cranes and other uncomfortable, even unsafe places. Waiting for the right weather conditions, especially for low lying, rolling fog was particularly hard. It took a whole year to capture 1 minute of footage featured in the film. Shooting from the container cranes at DP World was no laughing matter either. It was physically as well as mentally draining.”

Saradzic further reveals about his idea and vision that he has tried to depict through this video film as, “There are multiple reasons behind this film. In essence, this is the show-reel of my time lapse photography. I could have edited it the conventional way, using editing trickery and pumping library music. Instead, I decided to tell the story with an arc and a strong message, using just stunning visuals, deliberate editing and tailored music score instead of words. All of the locations were captured in the UAE, although the story is that of the whole mankind; what are we capable of when the right minds, determined spirit and the means to do it all come together in perfect harmony.

“I shot various locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, mainly from rarely seen angles, at special weather conditions. Featured are Dubai International Airport, WTC Mall in Abu Dhabi, DP World in Jebel Ali, mangroves on Reem Island in Abu Dhabi, Dubai Marina, Sheikh Zayed road, Deira Creek and many other places. It took a great deal of effort and patience to secure access to most of these locations”, he adds elaborating on each of the locations featured in the video film.

Beyond is intended to give viewers a photographic view of how the United Arab Emirates is evolving – right under our very eyes – and the employing of the time-lapse technicality serves to provide a distinct visual aid to emphasise on this aspect of evolution. There’s obviousness without an injection of ostentatious blatancy and beyond all these, there’s the feeling of self-belief and rejuvenation that describes the regions and their continued endeavours most aptly.

For fans of Beno Saradzic, this is however just the start and they can very well expect some equally scintillating works of his in the near future. Though he’s been very coy about revealing more details, Saradzic does emphasise on it being “special, complex and a lot more ambitious than all of my work done so far in this field.”

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